“Hey, just checking in, have you sent the paintings yet?” the text message read as my heart sank deep into my gut. My breath went cold and silent. Eons of evolution echoed a fight or flight urge as I stood frozen, staring at my phone like a deer caught in headlights.
I couldn’t believe it. This was a surprise commission for her daughter’s birthday. The 6 paintings left my studio via USPS Priority 10 days before and were only traveling about 2 hours away. Panic set in as I said to myself, “Noooooo, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…” The inner critic, or The Beast as it is sometimes called, reared its gnarly head as I started second guessing myself. Did I dream that I had shipped the works? Did I ship to the wrong address? What if I forgot to insure – wait I never forget to insure! Did someone see the insured value and purposefully “lose it”
But I had indeed shipped the paintings to the correct address and insured. However, this was during the height of the postal service debacle caused by changes in delivery management over the summer. I honestly had no idea what was going on as I love using USPS and had never had any issue in my 30 something years of using them.
When I quickly snapped out of it, I went directly into “take care of my collector” mode. “Oh no, you haven’t received it yet? I am so sorry for the delay. I shipped the paintings out on the 12th. I’m sure everything is fine. I’m looking into right now. Stand by!”
What transpired next was an absolute roller coaster of highs and lows as was constantly and simultaneously trying to track down the shipment while reassuring my collector everything was going to be okay. The collector was totally cool and understanding, I would like to add. I visited 3 different Post Offices talking with 3 different postal clerks. No one could give me any information I couldn’t already see online when using the tracking number which just said “in transit, arriving late”. I called every phone number I could find every single day and even some “secret phone number” that one of the clerks gave me (which ended up being just a voice mail to USPS consumer affairs). All while keeping my collector posted on my findings. It was harrowing, stressful, and exhausting to say the least, but I was determined to work my butt off for my collector anyway.
Her daughter’s birthday was coming up at the end of the month and after all the back and forth with the USPS and the shipping insurance company, I filed a claim. I reached out to my collector and gave her the news that it seems the paintings were lost. I offered to repaint the commissions within two weeks and hand deliver them in time for her daughter’s birthday. We talked on the phone and although she was disappointed with the USPS she was pleased with my solution!
We met socially distanced of course as I passed off the second round of paintings and had a fun time discussing how crazy the experience was and thrilled that it all worked out.
A couple of weeks later and a day just before the cut-off for the claim, she messaged me a photo of a big box that arrived on her doorstep with the text “Guess what arrived today!” I laughed while shaking my head. Although the claim with the shipping insurance company was ultimately rejected (that’s another story), I was thrilled that I kept my cool, and went above and beyond to provide the best customer service for my collector under the hardest of circumstances. It really is one of my favorite parts of what I do. I love everything about the process: chatting with collectors about their dogs or cats (or bats!), packaging the artwork with fun notes and secret hidden gems, and delivering. I love going to the post office and dropping off packages knowing that someone is about to open a rad box filled with celebration!
P.S. Hey wanna share the love? Forward and share this post to family and friends you think would enjoy what I’m doing! The more the merrier!